Leeds North West

2015 Result:
Conservative: 8083 (18.6%)
Labour: 13041 (30.1%)
Lib Dem: 15948 (36.8%)
Green: 3042 (7%)
UKIP: 2997 (6.9%)
Others: 246 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 2907 (6.7%)

Category: Marginal Liberal Democrat seat

Geography: Yorkshire and the Humber, West Yorkshire. Part of the Leeds council area.

Main population centres: Leeds, Otley, Yeadon, Bramhope.

Profile: Only around half this seat is actually made up of Leeds itself, the rest is the rural hinterland to the north of the city, including affluent commuter towns and villages like Bramhope, Otley and Yeadon and the Leeds-Bradford International Airport. The part of the seat in Leeds proper is very much the the city`s student quarter. The seat contains Leeds Metropolitan University and while Leeds University's campus lies outside the seat to the south-east, Headingley is also popular residential area for its students. Together well over a quarter of the seats voters are students, making it one of the ten seats with the highest proportion of students in the country.

Politics: Including what were traditionally some of Leeds nicer residential suburbs, Leeds North West was for many decades a reliable Conservative seat before falling to Labour in their 1997 landslide. Like many seats with a high student population the 2005 election saw a significant shift towards the Liberal Democrats on the back of Iraq and student fees and the party successfully won the seat from third place, holding it at the 2010 and 2015 elections.

Current MP
GREG MULHOLLAND (Liberal Democrat) Born 1970, Manchester. Educated at St Ambrose College and York University. Former promotions manager. Leeds councillor 2003-2005. First elected as MP for Leeds North West in 2005.
Past Results
Con: 11550 (27%)
Lab: 9132 (21%)
LDem: 20653 (47%)
BNP: 766 (2%)
Oth: 1382 (3%)
MAJ: 9103 (21%)
Con: 11510 (26%)
Lab: 14735 (33%)
LDem: 16612 (37%)
GRN: 1128 (3%)
Oth: 726 (2%)
MAJ: 1877 (4%)
Con: 12558 (30%)
Lab: 17794 (42%)
LDem: 11431 (27%)
UKIP: 668 (2%)
MAJ: 5236 (12%)
Con: 15850 (32%)
Lab: 19694 (40%)
LDem: 11689 (24%)
Oth: 818 (2%)
MAJ: 3844 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ALEX STORY (Conservative) Born 1974. Film and documentary producer, former Olympic rower.. Contested Denton and Reddish 2005, Wakefield 2010, Yorkshire region 2014 European election.
ALEX SOBEL (Labour) Educated at Leeds University. Manager of Social Enterprise Yorkshire. Leeds councillor.
GREG MULHOLLAND (Liberal Democrat) See above.
JULIAN METCALFE (UKIP) Director of a construction company.
TIM GOODALL (Green) Educated at Leeds University. University officer.
BOB BUXTON (Yorkshire First) Physics teacher.
MIKE DAVIES (Alliance Green Socialism)
MARK FLANAGAN (Above and Beyond) Born 1974, York. Journalist, author and media consultant.
Comments - 471 Responses on “Leeds North West”
  1. Paul
    Roundhay and Chapel Allerton where both added to a modified Leeds East along with Gipton, Kiilingbeck and Burmantofts. Like the present Leeds East it would have been very safe Labour.

  2. @rivers well yes there will be at one seat in South London where the Lib Dems are competitive but there will be none that are notionally Lib Dem unless the commission does the horrific thing of just adding Sutton Central/North to the current Carshalton and Wallington (can’t see how this could ever be justified though).

    So the options essentially are:
    -Add St Helier to Sutton and Cheam making that better for the Lib Dems (though still notionally Tory) and Carshalton and Wallington is torn up and merged with parts of Croydon thus unwinnable for the Lib Dems.
    -A Sutton and Carshalton seat is created which would be notionally Tory though winnable for the Lib Dems. Wallington/Beddington go into a Croydon seat which would not even be remotely winnable. The remaining wards west of Sutton are merged with parts of Merton and not be winnable either.

    So essentially which ever way you cut it you no notionally Lib Dems seats, 1 notionally Tory seat where the Lib Dems are competitive and that’s it (down from 1 held, 1 competitive) either way it is going to be very bad for the Lib Dems around this area.

  3. Pepps
    Your probably right, as I said I’ve actually been unable to do a London wide plan, I’ve done North London but I couldn’t stomach some of the monstrosities that needed to be created in South London, the Sutton and Croydon areas amongst them.

  4. I have done another London plan with which I am really happy with and I will post on the London thread in due course. It will be in several posts as I will include more detail than before. As for the partisan effects it is a mixed bag as you will see :-).

  5. North London is fine, things start getting a little dicey when you cross into South London (around Hillingdon and Richmond) but its manageable. Things go really pair shaped around Wandsworth but I can cobble something together, then I hit Croydon and Bromley and it all goes belly up…

  6. I’ll start with South London which may give you some pointers as it is possible though it’s not at all immediately obvious it took me ages to work out how to avoid the ‘hideous’ creations.

  7. That would be very helpful.

    The way you’re meant to draw boundaries (and the way the BC supposedly do it) is to identify and compartmentalise areas (could be a single local authority or it could be several in the same vicinity) that are entitled to a whole number of seats, that way once you have located these areas you can modify them freely without it having knock on effects on the rest of your plan.

    That’s how it is in theory and it works in most regions but for some reason in London it just doesn’t and their seem to be only a few set options that work without splitting wards and unfortunately many if not most of those options are hideous.

  8. Eww, as a Roundhegian that’s not a grouping I’d approve of; Roundhay has very little in common with any of those wards.

  9. It is quite possible that this seat could stay notionally LD / a close (possibly three way) marginal.

    It could well be that just Alwoodley or just Guiseley & Rawdon is added. Ideally for the LDs it would be Horsforth, but this is more unlikely.

  10. @Iain its possible I guess though Leeds North West is the most ‘forced’ of the seats road there meaning parts of it could easily be gobbled up as the more natural Leeds seats expand.

  11. An interesting piece on the BBC Daily Politics re Alex Story.

    With Kirkhope being enobled and thus being forced to resign as an MEP, Story was the next on the List and therefore in line to be the replacement MEP.

    However CCHQ’s Nominating Officer has refused and instead chosen another man.

    I’ve never met Story. My only knowledge of him is his apparent huge ego. He was touted around the whole North of England by the Tories in press releases and as an after dinner speaker. The only story of note online seems to be that he apparently paid a (young ethnic) nanny only £2.50 per hour thus breaching the National Minimum Wage.

    Incidentally, this isn’t unheard of. CCHQ/Warsi did this to Rupert Matthews who was due to succeed Roger Helmer. Helmer duly defected to UKIP in order to stop CCHQ imposing a Cameroon on his seat.

    Another problem with the undemocratic D’Hondt Party List system for EU Elections.

  12. It’s why I don’t support pure PR

  13. Personally I find this type of internal party foolery over succession to be a very poor reason for not supporting PR. These events are fairly rare, I doubt the vast majority of people even care and more so its actually very simple to prevent stuff like this from happening, why for example does one presume that the list at the time of the election is in anyway binding and entitles those next on the list to be automatic successors is beyond me, why couldn’t they just have had an ordinary selection process?

  14. They could also bring back Euro by-elections

  15. HH
    To be fair that would be difficult with PR, for example in this case the Tories came third in the Yorkshire region thus rendering the retention of this seat near impossible in a straight vote. I suppose however they could apply the same D’Hondt method which would essentially make it near impossible for Lab or UKIP to beat the Tories but in that instance I imagine there is a risk of Lab voters aware their first choice probably can’t win opting for the Greens or Libs en mass ensuring that the Tories can’t win. It gets quite complicated basically.

  16. “why for example does one presume that the list at the time of election is anyway binding”

    Because its what both the Party members and the public voted for.

    Party HQs are circumventing that little bit of democracy left in the Euro election system.

  17. “why can’t they just have an ordinary selection process”

    They did! That’s the whole point.

    Tory Party members in fact rated Story top in their ballot. However Kirkhope counted as a sitting Member of course.

    In the same way NW Tory members had no say on Saj Karim MEP as by defecting from the LDs he counted as a sitting Member just before the ballot took place.

  18. Sadly party list systems allow for party HQ to fix the lists on a regular basis. The LD removed a London Assembly Member simply by moving her down on the list. Everyone that voted against the Troika package Tsipras moved to the bottom of the list. In Denmark members are taken off the list if they vote against the party whip. It’s an easy way to remove dissent. Personally I support a hybrid of PR and a majority wins system. Something like AV+ or AMS

  19. A better alternative is to make the list open so that its voters who determine the ranking rather than the parties. Open lists are arguably the electoral system with the fewest flaws.

    The question of what to do about casual vacancies is problematic for all systems of PR. There is no perfect solution.

  20. Isn’t that called STV?

  21. Party lists are one of the worst forms of voting system, rivaling FPTP for that honour… They are beloved by power-hungry Party Leaders.

    However Matt, in the case of the Lib Dems it is the members who vote on the order of the list, not Party HQ… That is not as good as an open list, where voters get that choice, or STV, where voters get to influence both who is elected from their party AND other parties

  22. “…or STV, where voters get to influence both who is elected from their party AND other parties”.

    In practice voters rarely get the opportunity to have much choice between candidates from the same party under STV. Parties tend to only stand as many candidates as they think they can get elected. That means they rarely contest every available seat, and frequently in their less strong areas will only put up a single candidate.

    The fact that parties can end up losing out for putting up too many or too few candidates is one of STV’s two major flaws. The other is that a party can end up winning fewer seats than another despite having won more first preference votes. In Malta that kept on happening so they had to amend the constitution to ensure that the party ahead on first preferences always won the most seats.

  23. That’s not a flaw – it encourages parties to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters rather than being polarising, or focusing on a “35% strategy” (which seems oddly familiar as a phrase, can’t put my finger on it though).

  24. Given that STV requires that people rank preferences, it’s kind of the point of the system that seats aren’t solely allocated on first preference votes, and hence that the party with the most first preference votes needn’t win the most seats. Of course, the same thing can happen under FPTP, but that’s not usually seen as a problem by proponents of that system.

  25. Andy 54, not sure I understand your point. STV does encourage parties to appeal to a broad spectrum; that’s one of its advantages. But I don’t see how that makes up for the fact that a party can win less representation than its level of support merits because it stood too many or too few candidate. What’s the justification for a party ever being penalised for for putting forward candidates for election?

    There’s also the issue under STV of levels of representation being decided by how good parties are at “vote management” (getting their voters to distribute first preferences evenly among the party’s candidates).

    Basically I think the number of seats a party gets should be decided on the basis of its popularity, not how good it is playing the system. Open lists do that better than STV, and offer more opportunity for voters to choose between different candidates for the same party than STV typically does.

    Simon, so in your view the Maltese were utterly misguided in amending the constitution in the way they did?

    Don’t get me wrong I support PR, and if there were a referendum in which STV were the change option I would vote for change, even though I think open lists are better. But I do find it disappointing how many supporters of PR in the UK are so wedded to the view that STV is clearly the best system. All electoral systems have flaws, including STV. There are very good reasons why few countries in the world that use it, and why it’s almost totally neglected outside the Anglophone world.

  26. @Kieran W Well, it seems pretty pointless to have an electoral system that incentivises parties to get second and third preference votes, and then get upset when they go and do that. If you don’t like that, you should use a different system, rather than crying because the system plays out in the way it’s supposed to.

  27. It was the 1981 election that was the catalyst for the constitutional amendment in Malta. The Nationalist Party won fewer seats than Labour despite having won over fifty percent of first preferences. I don’t think you can characterise an outcome like that as the system playing out in the way it’s supposed to.

  28. My post was in reference to the second of your points, Kieran, about parties being able to win more seats despite getting fewer first preferences.

  29. @Kieran W Is that significantly different from a party winning more FPTP seats on a lower vote share, or, indeed, the recent US elections?

  30. No, but then as I said above I would vote to replace FPTP with STV were the latter the alternative presented, so pointing out the flaws in FPTP cuts no ice with me. I would prefer open list to be the alternative though as the system has neither of the flaws associated with STV.

    Andy54, fair enough. It’s a legitimate argument to say that the number of first preferences shouldn’t matter, but I don’t think it’s a powerful enough one to defuse the kind of crisis of legitimacy that ensues when a party wins an absolute majority of votes but ends up in minority in parliament, as happened in Malta in ’81.

    Malta did absolutely the right thing in changing the rules to prevent that ever happening again.

  31. The problem with an open list is that in most cases, people don’t have the knowledge required to rank candidates within the same party meaningfully, so, as happens in STV when there’s more than one candidate from a given party, people end up just listing them in the order they appear on the ballot. You either end up listing them according to the party’s ranking, which defeats the point of the open list, or in some other arbitrary order, which means that you’ve just given certain candidates a huge advantage.

  32. The point is that voters have the opportunity to choose between candidates for the same party. If they don’t want to avail themselves of that by getting informed about who the candidates are then that’s their choice. The system is still providing them with a level of choice that neither FPTP nor (most of the time) STV affords them.

    The potential impact of “donkey voting” whereby voters who don’t care about the ordering of candidates just number the candidates in sequence can be eliminated by randomising the order of candidates on the ballot (they can still be grouped by party). The donkey votes should therefore cancel each other out.

    It’s something that I’ve always thought should be done in UK elections where more than one seat is being contested. It’s well documented that those of us with surnames begining with a letter towards the end of the alphabet tend do badly out of the current system of alphabetical listing.

  33. STV works best in seats of 5 or more.. (unlike Scotland, 3 is too few)

    I see true choice as more important than strict proportionality.. electronic voting and randomised ballots can solve any donkey voting problems. It is high time the power of Parties was reduced…..

    I have long believed that STV played a big role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland.. how else can you explain the damascene conversion of Paisley and Adams to peace and compromise?? I They were afraid their own voters would pick more peaceful candidates…

  34. “STV works best in seats of 5 or more..”

    That’s what Malta uses.

  35. As I said, I do not regard a result of 50.9% to 49.1% giving a result of 31 seats to 34 seats as a failure of STV. STV is not a fully proportional system and no-one who advocates it has ever said it was…
    That result was very particular to Malta (repeated at the next election almost exactly), and there is no possibility of a 50.9 to 49.1 margin in a general election in the UK.

    The reference to 5 member constuencies was in reply to the suggestion that parties may not put up a choice of candidate. With 5 seats on offer any party in contention would put up at least 3 candidates

  36. Also I note the turnout in Malta in 2013 was 93.8%!! And that was considered a bit low! Evidently having to number candidates in order of preference does not put the voters off

  37. “As I said, I do not regard a result of 50.9% to 49.1% giving a result of 31 seats to 34 seats as a failure of STV…”.

    Whether it’s a failure of STV or no I don’t believe such a result is politically sellable in the majority of contexts. Public perception would be that the system had delivered the “wrong” result. That’s what happened in Malta, hence the constitutional amendment.

    I don’t share your optimism that parties would tend to stand three candidates in five member seats. Much depends on the prevailing party system. In a two party system you might be right, but in a multi party system I reckon two candidates would be the maximum parties would put up in the majority of cases.

  38. Henretty thinks this seat is all but certain to go Labour. That was shocking to me. Not what I’d predict at all. Is that the consensus? Have I been missing something?

  39. I can’t see any reason in the polls why the Labour vote would go up here. I am far from sure the Green vote would break Labour here and turnout among students will be a lot down on 2015, because with no election in view they did not register and most will be gone by June 8th.

    So the only logic would be Lib Dem to Con switching and a near 3 way tie.. in a Remain seat like this I suspect switching between Con and LD will be quite balanced…

  40. “One of a handful of seats where the Green vote was bigger than the majority, but the Conservative vote is likely to slip here, as it has done in every election since 1979, and I don’t see Labour winning this.”

    I did some work recently for a couple of pointy headed Leeds University academics. Happy about Brexit they were not. LD hold in this seat.

  41. Henretty had something like Lab 37, Con 34, LD 24 — it just seemed insane to me, especially since he also has the LDs regaining Bristol West.

    My expectation here would be a strong LD hold, Labour decline, and Tories retaking second place. I was surprised because that was exactly the opposite of his projection.

  42. I think you are referring to the Henretty study using BES data, but the sample size on Lib Dem held seats was only 200, and Henretty says it is not reliable on those..

  43. Probable LD hold, and no change to order.

  44. Andrew: I’m referring to his prediction model.

  45. If the Lib Dems lose this one they’re probably down to just Farron and Carmichael

  46. If Mulholland was going to lose this seat it would have been in 2015. LIb Dem hold and expect Lab to hang on to second place with reduced percentage.

  47. This seat is Mulholland’s for as long as he wants it; he’s a popular local MP (despite not being AS popular with Leeds Lib Dem group for some reason)

  48. Easy Lib Dem hold, and I expect them to increase their vote share. Estimated to have voted 65% Remain, and even ignoring the students there are loads of academics here. In 2015 I saw a lot of Labour pickets outside very nice middle-class houses in West Park and Weetwood – this is very much an urban middle class metropolitan seat (with a large student vote of course).

    Mulholland is safe.

  49. Unless the election is like the 2015 one where the Tories hung on but the Lib Dems seats fall with ease.

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